Jacques Mattheij

Technology, Coding and Business

Handbook Freemium

In the light of the ‘Offer HN’ meme that suddenly sprang up (and which seems to have died down, including the ‘offer’ and ‘offerless’ sections), I wondered how I could contribute myself. This little booklet is the outcome of that, it is the result of me realizing that the most concrete thing I have to ‘offer’ is some experience and a chunk of my time.

A lot of companies on the web use the ‘freemium’ model. Freemium is a contraction (ok, a portmanteau if you want to get technical) of the words ‘free’ and ‘premium’, and it is used to describe a model where you have both non-paying (free) and ‘premium’ (paying) users.

For an introduction, I’m Jacques Mattheij, the founder of ww.com, a company that has been in the ‘freemium’ business pretty much since before someone coined the word, and that has currently over 1.5M registered users. Over the years we have generated multiple millions of $ using this strategy, and we fully intend to add a bunch more. We’ve gone through several iterations of refining the strategies deployed, and if you plan on going the ‘freemium’ route, you could do worse than to read these pages and to absorb the lessons in there.

While succinct, the name ignores a vast third class of users, the ‘guests’, those that have not yet signed up for the free product, the nameless masses. In this book I’ll use the terms ‘guests’, ‘users’, and ‘customers’, but ‘customer service’ applies to users as well as to customers.

Every freemium company that sells a virtual product (as in ‘non-tangible’, you can’t touch it) on the web has to deal with the same issues, and many of the lessons learned in one company can be applied to every other company.

This handbook freemium distills the lessons of running such a company on the web for 13 years, and discussions (sometimes heated ones) with other people doing the same or planning to do the same, as well as lessons from companies that didn’t make it. And those might be the most valuable.

Of course, nothing is perfect and this handbook isn’t either, but I’ve done my best to make it worth your time to read and as accurate as possible. If you have criticism or other feedback, or if you feel certain concepts need to be fleshed out contact me via jacques@mattheij.com or on twitter via http://twitter.com/jmattheij, please refer to HBF in the subject, so I know what it’s about.

This text is intended for those that are currently running a freemium company, but also for those that intend to in the future, and in case you’re interested in the kind of business models that are used on the Internet as revenue generators for the websites that you visit.